ZAGREB, Croatia – The Global War on Terrorism brought military assets from nations around the globe together in units like Multi-National Force-Iraq and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Service members from the U.S. served alongside their foreign counterparts for over a decade. As operations in Afghanistan draw to a close, the global military community asks itself, how does the international bond remain after ISAF?
Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command augmented with Soldiers from the Hawaii Army National Guard and Croatian Army to form the simulated 70th Infantry Division headquarters during the international training exercise Immediate Response 13 at Petar Zrinski Barracks, Aug. 19 through 31.
Immediate Response 13 is a battlefield simulation exercise that brought military assets from the Balkan region of Europe together with the U.S. and members of the United Kingdom to conduct a fictional combat operation in the nation of “Atropian.” The 70th ID provided headquarters support to brigade and battalion assets engaged in simulated fighting.
“When an asset comprised of Croatian and U.S. Army soldiers engages in simulated battle and they suffer casualties or loss in equipment they report it up to us,” said Lt. Col. Moses Kaoiwi, the 70th ID operations officer for Immediate Response 13, the deputy commanding officer for the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and a native of Pearl City, Hawaii. “Once they send us the information, we provide them with guidance and priority of support for their units.”
Two U.S. soldiers from the 21st TSC’s 18th Engineer Brigade and one from the 16th Sustainment Brigade played key roles within the 70th ID headquarters. 1st Lt. Jonathan N. Galicia, the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sust. Bde. service and support officer and a native of San Antonio, acted as a plans officer during the exercise. He wrote orders that told U.S. soldiers and their foreign partners how to align their forces to succeed in simulated combat.
“Working at the division level is a new experience since so far I have only been at company and battalion level. The division really sees the whole picture in an operation,” said Galicia. “Working side-by-side with the Hawaii Army National Guard and the Croatian Army has been a very unique experience and it is definitely building the bonds of partnership and friendship for the future.”
Sgt. Jason L. Donaldson, a human resources noncommissioned officer assigned to the 18th Eng. Bde. and a native of Tallahassee, Fla., worked as an operations noncommissioned officer, charged with logging all significant actions such as attacks and incidents, all orders to the subordinate brigades and any requests for information from lower level units. Pfc. Karlea E. Henderson, a human resources specialist assigned to the 18th Eng. Bde. and a native of Susanville, Calif., took receipt of all requests for information, casualty reports and personnel statistics for the 70th ID personnel section. Their actions allowed the operations and personnel sections to run more smoothly, said Col. Arthur “Joe” Logan, the simulated 70th ID commander and chief of staff, the chief of the joint staff for the Hawaii National Army and Air Guard and a native of Mililani, Hawaii.
“From the time they joined us at Immediate Response, the members of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command have been very professional and provided us with some much valued support,” Logan said. “They are helping us ensure mission success at our level and enabling the success of our subordinate brigade and battalions.”
Throughout the exercise, the ‘First in Support’ warriors worked with their Hawaiian Army National Guard and Croatian partners to support international combat elements through simulated ground battles involving infantry, casualty reporting, damaged or lost equipment and crashed aircraft. Most of these scenarios were new experiences but provided valuable knowledge for the future, said Donaldson.
“I am doing something completely different from my normal mission at the 18th Engineer Brigade and I am learning so much about what a division staff goes through,” Donaldson said. “Knowing that we are supporting so many different nations and members of the active duty Army and National Guard shows the level of support this kind of unit has to provide.”
The international military community continues to build the bonds of partnership between nations through exercises like Immediate Response. The 21st TSC, Hawaiian Army National Guard and Croatian Army worked together to accomplish their mission and continue the tradition set by ISAF of standing “Shoulder to Shoulder.”
“This exercise is building the partnership we need to succeed in future missions together,” said Croatian Army Sgt. 1st Class Igor Petrovic, a battle NCO with the simulated 70th ID, a planning NCO for the Croatian Combat Training Center and a native of Sisak, Croatia. “I was very happy to work with all the American soldiers here and I will be happy to work with them again.”